Two Indian workers who escaped boarding the ill-fated Air India Express flight from Dubai have been thanking their stars.
They were prevented from boarding the flight due to non-payment of visa fines.
The Flight IX 1344 on a Boeing 737 left for Dubai on 7 August to Kozhikode and skidded off the runway at Karipur Airport, broke into two and fell 35 feet into the valley at the end of the runway causing many casualties.
At least 18 people including both the pilots of the flight died. The flight operating as a part of the Vande Bharat Mission was carrying 190 passengers on board, including the crew.
Many injured are being treated at four different hospitals in Kozhikode.
One of the lucky men, Noufal Moin Vetten, who worked as an office assistant in a Sharjah school recounted to Gulf News his miraculous escape:
“I was handed my boarding pass but when I reached immigration, they told me I had to pay a fine of Dh1000 for overstay. I had only Dh500. I called my school PRO and he told me to come back. He said they would follow protocols and pay fines before sending me.“
Vetten was disappointed and called his family to let them know. “When I heard about the crash, I was saddened for all the passengers. But so relieved I missed it. God has been really merciful,” said Vetten.
The second lucky man Afsal Parrakodan, was a resident of Abu Dhabi. He was also prevented from boarding over visa issues.
He told Gulf News: “My work visa was cancelled about a week ago and after getting my boarding pass, I was told I had to pay a fine of Dh1000 at the immigration counter, but I had only Dh500 on me.”
Parrakodan felt very disappointed. “ I was very keen to board the flight and be with my family. So I called a friend who brought me the additional Dh500, but by then my baggage was offloaded as the flight’s doors were closed,” said Parrakodan.
“I was feeling very sad and called my mother to tell her I had missed the flight. But a few hours later when I learnt of the crash, I couldn’t help feel relieved and thankful to God for saving my life,“ said an overwhelmed Parrakodan who plans to fly back next week.